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bookcase styling

How to Style a Bookcase: 5 Takes on this Storage Essential

Not every home update has to be a major reno. Sometimes all you need is to restyle a few surfaces to bring new perspective into your spaces. One way to do that is by rearranging your bookshelves.

There’s no shortage of bookcase styling ideas on Instagram and Pinterest—and for good reason. The bookshelf is the ultimate storage piece. Beyond books, you can decorate the shelves with art, sculptures, plants, and other storage vessels, which ultimately turn the shelves into stylish displays and focal points in a room. Whether you have a built-in bookshelf in your living room, floating shelves above your bed or a freestanding bookcase next to your work desk at home, consider filling them with your favorite decor objects alongside books to add a bit of visual interest.

bookcase styling

It’s not all just about style either. Part of what makes the bookshelf one of our top furniture essentials is that you can customize and tailor it to suit your storage needs as well as how you use your space. If you love plants, you can layer lots of greenery to create an interior vertical garden of sorts, or if you have children, you stow and stack away storage baskets and bins with toys. It’s all up to you how you want to decorate and use your shelving.

Here, we’ve rounded up five ways to style your bookshelf that are tried-and-true and guaranteed to give your rooms a whole new look and vibe. Read on for more and get our bookshelf styling tips along the way.

bookcase stylingTake #1: Shelves With A Mix Of Decor

Be it books and art or vases and bowls, this layered approach to decorating your shelves is all about curating a display of decorative objects and accents. Balance is essential here. You want to make sure your bookcase is arranged so that each of the shelves have an even distribution of decor and open spacing.

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Start with the big things. Begin by adding large, solid objects, such as tall vessels and boxes, to ground your shelves.
  • Layer in the small touches. Follow up with accessories, like framed art and decorative objects, so that each shelf tells a story and feels like a collection versus a random grouping of items.
  • Get creative with books. Line your books up vertically as usual, then stack bigger ones horizontally in piles of twos and threes. This helps balance out the shapes of the other decor.

Good rule of thumb: If you’re struggling with what objects to place where, try grouping things in threes (two small objects with one large item). It’s the easiest way to create a curated look.

This is perfect for… those who love a classic and elegant display that’s curated with all of their favorite books, art and mementos.

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bookcase stylingTake #2 – Shelves With Stylish Storage

Skip the books and double up on storage by arranging bookshelves with vessels, boxes, trays, and decorative baskets that provide even more storage. This is one of our favorite ways to minimize visual clutter of tchotchkes and small loose items. Plus, there’s no wrong way to decorate your shelves with this approach.

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Box it up. Stylish storage boxes are your best friends here since they come as a set in multiple sizes. Whether you stack them together or spread them out, it’ll always result in a cohesive look.
  • Think trays and jars. For a chic catchall, you can’t beat trays. Pair them with lidded jars that also keep knicknacks out of sight. From afar they’ll look like part of a beautiful bookshelf display.
  • Sprinkle in baskets. Not all baskets need to be tall and huge. They can be just big enough to hold books, toys, and remote controls. Go for matching ones so that you have a consistent look.

Good rule of thumb: The lower shelves are where you can be a little more prescriptive and just use them for storage baskets. It’s perfect for boxes for toys that children can easily grab.

This is perfect for… family-friendly spaces where practical storage is paramount but you still want your organization to come off as chic and cohesive looking.

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bookcase stylingTake #3 – Shelves With Plants & Greenery

Even if you’re not a plant parent, decorating with a bit of greenery on your shelves will help break up the color palette and also bring visual interest to your bookshelf. There’s no rule for the plants you bring in but we recommend low-light greenery and cacti, since those are low maintenance.

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Stack succulents. If you’re not sure how you’ll be able to take good care of plants, start with small cacti and succulents. Place them on stacks of books for some instant color and texture.
  • Opt for potted plants. Add large potted plants to serve as visual bookends that anchor top and middle shelves. Flowers, such as orchids, are great for bringing a colorful and sculptural touch.
  • Go faux. You also don’t have to go by the books and only stick to live plants. Faux greenery and flowers will provide the same vibrancy and color (without the need for care) to your shelves.

Good rule of thumb: Make sure to leave lots of breathing room for your plants on your bookshelves. You don’t want to overcrowd and dwarf them by adding books and lots of other objects. Stick to a few decorative items.

This is perfect for… modern minimalists who love airy plant-filled home look. This is definitely for someone who loves an uncluttered space as much as they love plants and greenery.

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bookcase stylingTake #4 – Shelves With Sculptural Objects

Your bookshelf is one of the best places to showcase personal collections, such as meaningful artworks and sculptures. With this approach, it’s all about filling your shelves with sculptures and accents that have unique and interesting shapes. Adding them alongside books is a great way to add movement and break up the straight lines of your bookshelves.

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Layer by size. Start by placing your largest sculptures and art pieces in the back of your shelves, then add smaller pieces in front. This creates a sense of depth that will draw focus.
  • Spread out similar items. Try to break up colors and shapes. It can be as simple as not grouping all the small white vases in one spot and dispersing them across several shelves.
  • Let statement pieces shine. Some accents shine brighter on their own, like statement vases and sculptures, which are more captivating without books and other objects around them.

Good rule of thumb: Not everything needs to be arranged in a cluster of three—which works best if you have an eclectic mix of decor. Separate matching objects and mix things up. It’ll feel more dynamic.

This is perfect for… collectors and art-lovers who want to show off the unique things they’ve amassed, be it a finds from their travels around the world or precious art given to them by friends.

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bookcase stylingTake #5 – Shelves With Colorful Accents

If you’re looking for a fun way to liven up the mood in a room, punch up a bookshelf with bright accents that add pops of bold colors. This is great if you have bookshelves in a living room that has mostly neutral furnishings, or if you’re working with a space that’s surrounded with stark white walls. Think of your shelves as a blank canvas for color!

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Complementary colors. Stick to colors that complement each other (blues and oranges here) for anchors. You can then explore accents in all the different shades of the colors you choose.
  • Pair books with plants. Give your bookshelves a bold dose of color and texture by topping colorful art books with a leafy plant. The natural greenery will help offset all the bright tones.
  • Oddities are great. When it comes to colorful accents, the more whimsical and odd the item the better. So bring on the weirdly shaped urn and the wild-patterned bowl. They all belong here!

Good rule of thumb: Color-blocking with your books is always a winning look. Group together the coffee table books that have the same color cover and spine to create a coordinated look that turns your shelves into an organized and eye-catching display.

This is perfect for… boho-style lovers who enjoy a mashup of colors and eclectic finds that each have a backstory. It’s all about keeping things quirky here!

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mantelpiece decor

12 Chic Ways To Style Your Mantel

A fireplace mantel in any living room design is an instant focal point. Although more often than not, it’s the last place you probably pay attention to when decorating your home. It’s understandable since furniture, rugs, art, and other wall decor always seem to take priority. Nonetheless, taking the time to curate a few artful objects and mantelpiece decor items can make such a big difference to the focus and vibe in your living room.

However, for starters, there are some important questions to consider. First, what if your fireplace doesn’t have a mantel? Can you hang up wall accents instead? How about if your fireplace is super shallow or curved? And what if the space above your mantel is the only place for your TV? Will you switch up your decor seasonally for summer and the holidays? Once you’ve figured out those foundational elements, you can move on to the fun part and start exploring mantel decorating ideas that match your style.

To provide you with some inspiration and guidance, we’ve rounded up some of our most stylish fireplace design ideas and broken down some key mantel decorating tips to help you style yours in a way that works for you. Find out more below!

mantelpiece decorFor An Eclectic Mantelpiece

For a fireplace mantel display that’s captivating and eclectic, decorate it with small objects in various shapes and sizes. Case in point: The rounded fireplace in this desert minimal space.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Function and beauty. A few pint-sized home decor finds that are pretty and practical will set your fireplace surround apart. Think sculptural ceramics, woven accents, and hanging textiles.

Get eclectic with greenery. Mix white vases in different shapes on your mantel. Then fill them with a range of greenery that lend height, texture, and color. They’ll become instant focal points.

Fill the hearth. If you have a non-functioning fireplace (or one you don’t use), all the better since it opens up the possibilities! Use it to store old and new books to bring in an eclectic vibe.

mantelpiece decorFor Minimal Mantelpiece

Curation is key when it comes to the less-is-more minimalist aesthetic. For a small surface like the fireplace mantel, go with a few items that make a big statement in style and size.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Visually minimal. You want to play up an airy and edited vibe. Bring in objects with strong lines and shapes for the mantel that tie back to the minimalist modern designs of the rest of the room.

Relocate the big things. Instead of a mirror or a piece of artwork, stick to a few vases and bowls that command attention in a quieter way on your mantel, which will add subtle intrigue.

Keep it neutral. Use a minimalist palette of black, grey, and white tones that you carry through to the mantel decor, be it stone vases or white ceramics. Everything will feel more cohesive.

mantelpiece decorFor a Fireplace With A TV

When the living and family rooms are one and the same, that often means optimizing a modern space for function, TV viewing, and lounging around a fireplace. Here, it’s all about practicality and comfort.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Clear the view. Mounting a TV over the fireplace mantel can be stylish and it doesn’t have to be a huge hassle. Just keep decorative accents to a minimum so you don’t block the screen.

Stick to small and simple. You can add accents and objects, but just make sure they’re small and don’t distract from the TV. Tealights, tiny votives, and low vases for cacti are perfect.

Aim for big furnishings. With the TV as the main focal point, you’ll want to balance it out with equally substantial furniture. You can’t go wrong with a modern chandelier and clean-lined sofa.

mantelpiece decorFor An Asymmetrical Fireplace Mantel

Sometimes a built-in fireplace mantel that is at the mercy of a room’s interior architecture will make it appear awkwardly retrofitted into the space. Use that to your advantage for bold objects.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

The boldest accents. When decorating tricky areas, offset any awkward spacing with extra bold designs. Go for the large art and don’t worry about having too many sea glass vessels.

Mirror it. There’s no better place for an oversized mirror than above an asymmetrical mantel. Not only will it reflect light and center the room, it will also make for an unforgettable focal point.

Opt for potent hues. Find accents that reflect the brightest colors in the rest of the room, like the blue, green, and taupe combo here. They’ll make for finishing touches that pack a punch.

mantelpiece decorFor a Narrow Fireplace Mantel

In a living room with high ceilings and a fireplace mantel that doesn’t have a deep ledge, think vertical. The perfect accents will fill out the fireplace height and result in a cozier look and feel.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Fill up wall space. The higher the ceilings, the more room for a large-scale mirror, an oversize or an abstract painting above the mantel, which will instantly warm up the room.

Layer tall objects. Be it carved wooden candlesticks or obelisks or a tall plant, use tall accents to close the height gap between the ceiling and the mantel. It’s the key to visual balance here.

Contrast shapes. If you’re struggling to narrow down accent decor ideas, start with pieces that have curvy shapes and soften the lines of a room. It’ll feel a bit whimsical and add intrigue.

mantelpiece decorFor A Sculptural Curved FIreplace

With a fireplace that’s an architectural statement in and of itself, like this rounded adobe-style hearth, you want to amplify the construction instead of overrun it with decor. Embrace simplicity!

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Think above and beyond. When you can’t hang art or mirrors on to a fireplace, decorate around it instead. Hang matching artwork alongside the fireplace to play it up as a focal point.

Play with accents. With architectural fireplaces, go easy on accents. Layer in a few whimsical objects, like figurines, and a large candelabra in the hearth, which you can swap out as needed.

Paint it! While this might sound daunting, painting an architecturally interesting fireplace is a surefire way to make it stand out. Choose a neutral that works with any style or color furniture.

mantelpiece decorFor A FIreplace With No Mantel

Unlike fireplaces with mantels, ones that are flush with no ledge for accents are natural focal points in any room. It’s a perfect backdrop for hanging objects that add style and personality.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Make it sculptural. With no fireplace mantel, a flush hearth can look like it lacks depth from afar. Install something sculptural or 3D or even a pair of sconces  to create extra visual interest.

Add bold texture. One of our favorite accents for fireplaces that are flush are woven baskets. They’re a lightweight and bring the perfect contrast of color and texture to the flush backdrop.

Go high contrast. With flush fireplaces, the more color and texture you layer on top the more elevated your space will feel. Try a black-and-white palette that plays up a modern eclectic vibe.

mantelpiece decorFor A Layered Fireplace Mantel

For a foolproof way to dress up a fireplace mantel, layer large artworks on top. There’s no hard and fast rule except that you should showcase pieces that are framed and meaningful to you.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Lean your art. Instead of hanging your artwork, lean them against the wall on your mantel to emphasize the layered look. This also makes it easy to swap in new pieces whenever you want.

Mix it up. This is one approach where you want to combine all kinds of artworks for the most dynamic look. Think black-and-white photos, drawings, abstract paintings, etc. It’s all in the mix!

Layer in colorful accents. Add decorative touches like candles, vases or bowls next to the art for pops of color and texture. Be sure to fill the whole mantel with art and objects for big impact.

mantelpiece decorFor A Focal Point Mantel

Speaking of ideas for fireplace decor involving art, try a maximalist approach, and hang one statement piece. This is the easiest way to decorate a fireplace with a guaranteed visual impact.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Consider proportions. Keep the size of any artwork in proportion to your fireplace mantel. That means making sure there’s still a good several inches all around once it’s centered on the wall.

Big and bold only. Large abstract paintings, bright florals, and any elaborately colorful art that with bright patterns is the way to go. You want it to draw the eye from anywhere in the room.

Don’t rule out alternatives to art. No need to limit yourself to paintings and photographs. It can be a tapestry, a sculpture, or even a framed textile fragment. Get creative with your ideas!

mantelpiece decorFor A Mixed Material Fireplace Mantel

Nothing looks more sophisticated than a fireplace mantle that features both stone and wood. The combination of materials lends a sense of elegance and formal flair to elevates any room.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Bring out the materials. You want the focus to be the fireplace surround here. Keep to simple and subtle art, like a carved wash-wood panel or a soft-hued painting that’s a neutral focal point.

Flank the mantel. Add sculptural decor but group them on the sides for visual balance. Ceramic vases in varying heights or a low-profile teak bowl will add to the layered material look.

Show your best. A chic stone fireplace provides the perfect spot for displaying favorite objects and collections from travels. Try pairing and combining things to find the best grouping of items.

mantelpiece decorFor A Modern Fireplace Mantel

When it comes to modern-rustic fireplaces like this one, you want the brick surround to be the focus, so don’t cover it up. Use it as a textural backdrop for complementary graphic accents.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

A simple palette. Take a cue from the brick and ground your accents in the same high-contrast color scheme. Black and white ceramics and art are great starting off points.

Play up visual textures. Streamlined patterns and subtle textures, like stripes, geometrics, and hand-thrown pottery, add an element of depth to the fireplace mantel that’s much needed here.

Try the one to three combo. For every piece of art, mix in three ceramic pieces alongside it for visual balance. This creates multiple focal points while keeping the fireplace appearing airy still.

mantelpiece decorFor A Traditional Fireplace Mantel

For those who prefer a fireplace mantel look that’s elegant and effortless, this styling approach is tried-and-true. While the mantel isn’t deep, the architectural details more than make up for it.

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3 Tips To Get The Look:

Let architecture shine. The tapered wall above the mantel is part of the fireplace surround and in these instances, you want to honor rather than hide this fact. Flank it with accents to draw attention to how it beautifully blends into the wall behind.

Choose tall accents. Add thin but tall decor near the ends of the mantel, like candlesticks that pop against the white backdrop and lush greenery and dried flowers that offer a vibrant sight.

Beyond the mantel. To strike visual balance, add art to side walls near the fireplace and put small decorative furniture and topiary plants in front of it as a way to bring out the molding details within the fireplace mantel.

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Easy Fireplace Mantel Styling Updates for Fall

There’s no better time than fall to give your fireplace mantel a simple and stylish refresh. Since your living room fireplace is where family and friends will likely gather during holiday parties, take this time to make your space look its best.

But rather than a thematic approach that calls for gourds and spice, or all things red and green, try switching up your mantel with a look that’s pretty and polished for all occasions.

Check out these easy ideas below for ways to turn your fireplace mantel into an eye-catching focal point.

 

Mantel Styling

Add Sleek Lighting and Accents

Turn your mantelpiece into an illuminating display by placing small table lamps on opposite ends with modern art and accents in between.

Lamps make for a stylish alternative to sconces, which require hanging, and they’ll provide good lighting that will help to emphasize your art pieces.

Opt for white picture frames and lamps along with artwork that’s easy on the eyes, such as illustrations, tonal paintings, and watercolors; this way, when grouped together, these pieces will appear sleek and polished rather than minimalist.

Round it all out by adding a small vessel and a single leafy stem, which will bring a little life to the spot and help direct people’s focus.

 

Mantel Styling

Layer Rustic Elements

Take a more seasonal and casual approach by simply updating your mantel with a few earthy accents. This is an easy way to give your space a dose of major rustic appeal.

When grouped together, this olive topiary, evocative painting and hanging lantern, add height, warmth and boldness all at once to this mantel.

And rather than leaning a handful of art pieces against each other, try propping up one impactful landscape painting so that you’re able to easily change it up with another piece according to the seasons (and your liking).

Similarly, a stack of your favorite books used as decor can contribute nicely to the overall rustic vibe but can easily be switched out.

 

Mantel Styling

Try a Sculptural Approach

If you’re looking to make a strong visual statement, hang a sculptural piece above your mantel to turn it into a focal point in your space.

Rather than your run-of-the-mill oversize painting or mirror, choose a large piece with lots of texture and pattern that grabs people’s attention immediately.

This hanging basket with a mesmerizing swirl design adds just the perfect sculptural and textural touch to an otherwise empty wall space.

Fill out the rest of your mantel with vessels and ceramics in quiet neutral tones that complement rather than distract from your bold centerpiece.

 

Mantel Styling

Curate an Elegant Scene

Rather than just a catchall for interesting accents and quirky objects, style your mantel as you would your bookshelves, with books neatly curated alongside pretty art and greenery.

If you’re tight on space, turning your mantel into a secondary bookshelf can be a pretty, space-saving hack.

A large round mirror will help to open up the space and bring a little lightness to a book-lined mantel, while botanical art layered in front and potted greenery can help to bring the outdoors in—even when the temperatures are cool.